Book Review: Arranged by Catherine McKenzie

Arranged by Catherine McKenzie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publisher:  Harper Collins Canada

Summary:  Anne Blythe has a great life: a good job, good friends, and a potential book deal for her first novel. When it comes to finding someone to share it with, however, she just can't seem to get it right.

After yet another relationship ends, Anne comes across a business card for what she thinks is a dating service, and she pockets it just in case. When her best friend, Sarah, announces she's engaged, Anne can't help feeling envious. On an impulse, she decides to give the service a try because maybe she could use a little assistance in finding the right man. But Anne soon discovers the company isn't a dating service; it's an exclusive, and pricey, arranged marriage service. She initially rejects the idea, but the more she thinks about it-and the company's success rate-the more it appeals to her. After all, arranged marriages are the norm for millions of women around the world, so why wouldn't it work for her?

A few months later, Anne is travelling to a Mexican resort, where in one short weekend she will meet and marry Jack. And against all odds, it seems to be working out-until Anne learns that Jack, and the company that arranged their marriage, are not what they seem at all.

I have the paperback edition that was originally published in CA & I find that cover more aesthetically pleasing than the one issued for the US (available May 15, 2012). The new cover would not have caught my eye or made me want to pick it up, though it does look like a good facsimile of the couple in the book. Hydrangeas over people for me, I guess.

If you're a fan of Anne of Green Gables (& I mean obsessed, like me) this is a great book! I laughed, was moved & had those truly girly "Oh! That's just perfect!" moments. Anne Shirley Blythe is looking for her Gilbert (not to be confused with her brother named Gil, btw) & the journey she embarks on is a winding & surprising one. I cannot give any of the twists away but this will make even the most sensible & serious holding their breath & hoping against hope that it'll all work out in the end.

There's a nice mention of Amber Sheppard (who was a character in Spin) that I thought was a neat nod to readers of the first book. I'm a sucker for that kind of thing, I suppose. Anne was easy to like & feel for as was her family. I didn't feel very connected to her BFF Sarah but she served her purpose very well in the story. Jack was worth every word & even when his transgression is revealed, I wanted to cheer for him. Even in the confusion & jumble of what's going on, the importance of trust, compatibility & friendship being instrumental in the equation of love is clear to see. Simply put, I found it quite beautiful a testament.

Having read Spin, it was interesting to me to read Arranged & have a much deeper delve into similar territory (a writer clandestinely writing about something highly personal involving people who trust them but are unaware) but in much more depth & from a different perspective. Well done, altogether. It should likely go without saying that I'll be reading the author's next book, Forgotten when it comes out.

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